Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 1999


Published in Great Plains Research 9 (Spring 1999). Copyright © 1999 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Lester Brown's edited volume acquaints social workers with "two spirits," that is, those Native Americans who are "gay," "lesbian," or who may adopt mixed-gender practices and roles. Although well-intended, the attempts to sensitize social workers to Natives' lives are occasionally thwarted by overgeneralizations and weak analyses.

In the three chapters on identity, the intricacies of culture, gender, and sexuality theory are watered down and confused. In their comparison of Lakota and Dakota practices, Little Crow, Judy Wright, and Brown conjure the odd label "non-heterosexual gender identity" and collapse gender into sexuality. Mary Ann Jacobs and Lester Brown's piece often homogenizes the "American Indian," although the authors' interviews with eight Native American lesbians and gays demonstrate a rich diversity of identities and experiences.